The paper presents an analytical method developed for the nondestructive study of nineteenth-century Persian polychrome underglaze painted tiles. As an example, 9 tiles from French and German museum collections were investigated. Before this work was undertaken little was known about the materials used in pottery at that time, although the broad range of colors and shades, together with their brilliant glazes, made these objects stand out when compared with Iranian ceramics of the preceding periods and suggested the use of new pigments, colorants, and glaze compositions. These materials are thought to be related to provenance and as such appropriate criteria for art-historical attribution. The analytical method is based on the combination of different nondestructive spectroscopic techniques using microfocused beams such as proton-induced X-ray emission/proton-induced γ-ray emission, X-ray fluorescence, 3D X-ray absorption near edge structure, and confocal Raman spectroscopy and also visible spectroscopy. It was established to address the specific difficulties these objects and the technique of underglaze painting raise. The exact definition of the colors observed on the tiles using the Natural Color System®© helped to attribute them to different colorants. It was possible to establish the presence of Cr- and U-based colorants as new materials in nineteenth-century Persian tilemaking. The difference in glaze composition (Pb, Sn, Na, and K contents) as well as the use of B and Sn were identified as a potential marker for different workshops.
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National Museums Scotland
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Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
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